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Monita Secreta


A collection of allegedly secret instructions from the Jesuit general C. acquaviva to provincials and rectors. Monita secreta (privata) Societatis Jesu is actually a clumsy forgery and has long been recognized as such, but even today it is introduced into popular anti-Jesuit writings. After its appearance (Crakow 1614, falsified as Notobrigae 1612), it was widely distributed in a short while (22 eds. in seven languages by 1700, and 42 eds. by 1786). The titles varied: Avis d'or de la très religieuse Compagnie de Jésus, Le Cabinet jésuitique, Arcanes de la Compagnie de Jésus, Jesuiterpolitica, The Secret Instructions of the Jesuits, etc. It was put on the Index May 10, 1616 (made public Dec. 28, 1616), and numerous rebuttals soon appeared (M. Bembus in 1615, J. Argenti in 1616, J. Gretser in 1618, and A. Tanner, et al.), but it continued to circulate. The former Jesuit Jerome Zahorowski, dismissed from the society in 1613, was established as its author through an investigation ordered by the bishop of Crakow himself in 1615 and through an entry in the diary of the Jesuit house in Crakow in August 1614. Similar in style to the rules and the constitution of the society, the Monita in 16 chapters, later expanded to 17, contains detailed instructions on how to use trickery, dissimulation, and political intrigue, and how to get hold of inheritances, always with the increase of the society's power and influence in mind and without regard for faith and morals. The sharp contrast between the content of the Monita and both the letter and the spirit of the society's constitution and the instructions of the generals is so obvious as not to require explication. Even enemies of the society, such as P. sarpi, a. arnauld, and the Jansenistic Nouvelles ecclésiastiques, rejected the work as false. This verdict was confirmed in the 19th century (dÖllinger, f. reusch, a. von harnack). Nonetheless, the work continues to be used as invective in polemics; e.g.,P. von Hoensbroech concedes that it is technically a forgery but maintains that in fact its instructions reflect the true spirit of the society.

Bibliography: p. tacchi-venturi, "Il Prof. Raffaele Mariano ed i 'Monita Secreta' dei Gesuiti," La Civiltà Cattolica 5 (1902) 341344; "L'autenticità dei 'Monita Secreta,' e il Prof. Raffaele Mariano," ibid. 694713. a. brou, Les Jésuites de la légende, 2 v. (Paris 190607) v. 1. b. duhr, I Gesuiti, favole e leggende, 2v. (Florence 1908) v.1. l. koch, Jesuiten-Lexikon 122527.

[b. schneider]

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